Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's a Book, Not a Pill

Ever started a book that everybody else claims is fabulous but find yourself gazing at the ceiling and thinking about England? Toss the literary fiction then, argues Nicholas Hornby, author of About a Boy and How to be Good, in a recent Telegraph article:
...Boredom, let's face it, is a problem that many of us have come to associate with books. It's one of the reasons why we choose to do almost anything else rather than read; very few of us pick up a book after the children are in bed and the dinner has been made and the dirty dishes cleared away.

We'd rather turn on the television. Some evenings we'd rather go to all the trouble of getting into a car and driving to a cinema, or waiting for a bus that might take us somewhere near one.

This is partly because reading appears to be more effortful than watching television, and usually it is; although if you choose to watch one of the American HBO series, such as The Sopranos or The Wire, then it's a close-run thing, because the plotting in these programmes, the speed and complexity of the dialogue, are as demanding as a lot of the very best fiction.

One of the problems, it seems to me, is that we have got it into our heads that books should be hard work, and that unless they're hard work, they're not doing us any good.

Most teen readers agree with Hornby, and that's why I'm all for recommending fun books like these, selected by the ALA as 2007 quick picks for reluctant readers. Is it just me, or does the phrase "reluctant reader" sound like an oxymoron?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I'd agree that the vast majority of readers are "reluctant readers." 5%, though, will read any and everything they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, it is this group that gets the attention most easily from teachers and librarians.

So, yeah, "reluctant reader" is not a very good term since it applies to almost everyone!

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